Escorting the nine-day queen Lady Jane Grey across the Tower of London from throne room into imprisonment is Elizabeth Tilney, who surprised even herself by volunteering for the job. All Elizabeth knows is she’s keen to be away from home; she could do with some breathing space. And anyway, it won’t be for long: everyone knows Jane will go free as soon as the victorious new queen is crowned. Which is a good thing because the two sixteen-year-olds, cooped up together in a room in the Gentleman Gaoler’s house, couldn’t be less compatible. Protestant Jane is an icily self-composed idealist, and Catholic Elizabeth is . . . well, anything but.
They are united though by their disdain for the seventeen-year-old boy to whom Jane has recently been married: petulant, noisily-aggrieved Guildford Dudley, held prisoner in a neighboring tower and keen to pursue his prerogative of a daily walk with his wife.
As Jane’s captivity extends into the increasingly turbulent last months of 1553, the two girls learn to live with each other, but Elizabeth finds herself drawn into the difficult relationship between the newlyweds. And when, at the turn of the year, events take an unexpected and dangerous direction, her newfound loyalties are put to the test.
Review by Katy Haye:
It’s ages since I read a good historical novel, and I loved falling into this. The Tudors, I tend to find, are overdone, but this was pleasantly different: it was the story of Lady Jane Grey, but not about her 9-days rule, but the days after that, when she was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
The story is told (and we see Jane) through Lizzie’s eyes, the young Catholic girl who volunteers to be Jane’s companion largely out of instinct before she realises why she desires (and needs) an escape from her usual life.
Lizzie was a great narrator. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her as she took stock of her life with the advantage of distance. Lizzie was very far from the usual portrayal of a Tudor girl from a good family. Clever and thoughtful, without her being at all anachronistic I felt she could have fitted perfectly well into modern life.
The Lady of Misrule is slower and calmer than my usual, fast-paced fare but I was entirely absorbed. My only complaint is that it was extraordinarily open-ended. There clearly isn’t going to be another book in the series (if you don’t know what happened to Lady Jane Grey, I won’t spoil it for you!), but I would have liked a bit more of a hint about what Lizzie planned to do once Jane, ahem, no longer needed her.
Katy Haye writes fast-paced fantasy for YA readers. Her new release, Rising Tides, is now available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and (for those who like a real book) in paperback.